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This week I was fortunate to spend 2 full days at SAP Labs in Palo Alto with incredibly talented and inspiring people that I am very much enjoy learning from and sharing ideas with, to better collaborate between EMC and SAP…and ultimately help our joint clients reach their goals.

During some of the conversations (the non HANA ones…) the question came up around what is EMC’s Private (and Public) Cloud for SAP strategy. Thought it would be a good idea to write a summary of what my thoughts are on this topic, which I recently wrote longer blog post about this topic in my personal blog. In that blog post I called it the “era of Private Cloud for SAP ERP deployments”.

Our strategy on this topic is very simple:

First, we believe that SAP ERP customers should move to an x86 platform for SAP (if they are not already there) to reduce costs and take advantage of virtualization. There are many proof points on why this makes sense including what I believe SAP’s overall vision is…look at for example, SAP HANA: there is a reason that SUSE Linux (x86) is the only platform option.  Another great proof point is the important co-innovation SAP is having with Intel which Vishal speaks about in his keynotes. In my opinion the discussion of x86 scaling, performing and providing rock solid availability for SAP ended in 2011/2012.

Second, we believe in order to drive the best TCO, utilization, agility, elasticity, and flexibility, customers should continue to embrace VMware virtualization for SAP.  We use to have to explain to our customers, why this makes sense, but this is not the case anymore. The advantages and adoption rate (since VMware 5.0 performance and scalability capabilities) is incredible. The conversation is not about “if” it’s a good idea to virtualize (with VMWare) a SAP environment, it’s “when” and “how” do I virtualize my SAP environment without impacting risk to my business.

Third, we believe in order to deploy a true Private Cloud for SAP deployment, customers will need to “architect-in” Automation for SAP from the ground up. In order to achieve the benefits of a Private Cloud for SAP deployment, of massively improving time-to-value (weeks to days and days to hours), SAP customers will need to take advantage of tools sets like SAP’s Landscape Virtualization Manager, VMware’s suite of tools sets such as vCloud Director, Cisco’s Intelligent Automation.

I believe if you follow these three principles to build out your Private Cloud for SAP deployment, your next logical questions should be: what are my options in architecting my infrastructure (Server, Network, and Storage).  We believe there are three ways to building out a Private Cloud for SAP deployment:

1. Deploy a “Build your own” architecture for SAP, picking your favorite x86 server vendor, your favorite storage network vendor and your favorite storage vendor (which hopefully is EMC).

2. Deploy a “reference architecture” for SAP. There are several options here such as what we call V+C+E architecture for SAP (VMware, Cisco and EMC) or our VSPEX offering. We recently announced our SAP Virtual Stack which fits great in this example. Some of our competitors such as NetApp’s FlexPod, HP’s Matrix also fit this category.

3. Deploy a true Converged Infrastructure for SAP such as the VCE Company’s Vblock. Meaning built as an appliance, single support, single management tools and so on. There are pros and cons for each of these infrastructure architecture paths, and being an EMC employee I would of course suggest a V+C+E, VSPEX or Vblock for SAP path depending upon your current state and ability to embrace change and innovation to drive better time-to-value and overall cost models.

Our customer that have gotten the most value out of their Private Cloud for SAP deployment did this with Vblock for the best automation capabilities and most impressive metrics across the board (TCO, Time-to-Value etc).

We were also very fortunate to have SAP themselves validate this approach to transform SAP environments through virtualizations with the announcements made at Sapphire Madrid 2011:  Preferred Three-Way Strategic Collaboration With EMC and VMware to Deliver Greater IT Efficiency and Business Agility

Another great advantage of deploying a Private Cloud for SAP deployment on-premise, is that it will give you more flexibility to take advantage of off-premise Public Cloud for SAP models. Creating a true hybrid cloud for SAP environments enables you to move workloads from a private cloud for SAP deployment to a Public Cloud for SAP offering depending of changing business requirements. EMC has built out an Serivce Provider offering that offers these SAP Public Cloud models with the Velocity Service Provider Program.

So, what are some of the results we have seen in our customers that has transformed their SAP landscapes to a Private Cloud for SAP model:

– A customer being able to finish a major SAP project involving a ton of changes (application changes/upgrades, data center move, OS/DB, infrastructure refresh, cloud architecture deployment) which normally would have taken 12-14 months, only took 7 months;

– Another large customer ($20B +) that now has the ability to rebuild their entire SAP production environment in 3 days, this is something that use to take 8-10 weeks at a minimum;

– and a third example with a customer being able to react 10X faster than their business when it comes to support the roll-out of new functionality in their SAP environment;

– another large SAP customer is able to provision new individual SAP systems in 30 minutes, something that use to take them days;

– And lastly, a customer that re-platformed their SAP environment to a Private Cloud for SAP environment (compared to a UNIX environment) and achieved overall cost savings of 35% and performance improvement of nearly 60% enabling them to focus on other areas to provide better business value.

The most important item we have learned over the last few years is that it is completely different for an SAP customer to build out a Private Cloud for SAP environment depending upon if  they are currently on Unix platforms, already on x86 platforms or are an SAP customer deploying a new project using SAP’s ASAP methodology (Greenfield deployment). Clearly risk has to be managed through a transformation and larger current Unix for SAP customer are not going to move to a 100% virtual x86 for SAP architecture over night.

I believe the Private Cloud for SAP adoption will accelerate in 2013 which is going to make this year another exciting year for everyone in the SAP ecosystem. If you deploy a Private Cloud for SAP project, the results will be that customer will be able to focus more on business functionality that provides value to their businesses (such as SAP HANA) vs worrying about “keeping the lights on”!

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